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It's called Herbie


Great handling and looks

Dodgy electrics

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Value for Money

Road Handling



Fuel consumption


25 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (3%):
  1. taisu
very helpful by (98%):
  1. evilfran
  2. gizmogizmo
  3. jamiemazza
and 36 other members

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While on holiday in France, in the middle of a supermarket car park, I remember the day I first clapped eyes on this new generation of 'golf'. It was cold and very wet that day, yet there was one thing that was particularly striking - its eyes. It just looked at you, longing to be driven. I vividly remember being totally awe-struck as to how VW had managed to put the indicator, sidelights and headlights all into one glass 'dome'. I was just learning to drive at the time, coincidently, so this was definitely the car to have.

Well, to be honest, it took quite a while to get saving a deposit and then to con my parents, sister and any other unfortunate remotely related person into part-subsidising the loan. Anyway, eventually, on the way home from work one day, which just so happened to be past the local VW dealer, there was the car of my dreams. It had only just come in that day, it hadn't even been cleaned at that point. It was in 'Cosmic Green', but for all non VW fanatics that's a kind of 'granny smith' apple colour. Perfect.

I think that is probably the last time I'll be using the word 'perfect' in this review. After numerous trips back to the dealer, I was beginning to tire quite rapidly of spending many Saturday mornings sitting in a car showroom.


First, it was a headlight bulb which was quite minor really. But it wasn't content with just the one bulb, no, then the back brake light bulb failed, then an indicator bulb went, then the disease began to creep inside the car and some previously illuminated gadgets were, well, no longer illuminated. Secondly it was reporting an airbag fault, never did find out why it kept doing that. Then, this was really the last straw; it overheated whilst sitting in a jam coming home from work. Any one of the little niggles would have been, er, overlooked - but put all of them together and it was just hard to take.

It was beginning to appear like this was a 'Friday afternoon car'.

A couple of weeks later, there was a newer Mk 4 golf that the dealer had just taken in and as they were aware of the problems I'd had they suggested that a newer Mk 4 model may have had some of the minor niggles 'rectified'. Yep, you've guessed, I was willing to give it another go. This time the colour wasn't so nice, but it had fewer miles on the clock. It seemed a good deal.

So the salesman bid me many miles of happy motoring, and threw in a set of new car mats….bargain!

Now this was what I'd expected of a VW Golf - perfect gearbox, lovely blue illuminated dashboard, refined interior, superb road handling. Yep, and I even decided to call this one Herbie!

I had an important meeting one morning. I started Herbie, it seemed a little reluctant to accelerate at first, then it jumped forward and cut out - yep you've guessed it, for you VW golf owners this is the fatal signal - 'Emissions Workshop'. Fortunately the VW dealer provided a year of VW Assistance (is that a coincidence?!), so after an hour of waiting the mechanic arrived and he concluded the Ignition Coil had decided to call it a day. Extremely unusual apparently, doesn't happen very often. He just so happened to be carrying one in the van, so it was fitted and herbie was up and running again.

A few days later, I just couldn't believe my luck. Exactly the same symptoms, this time I was miles away from home and it was dark and cold. Same process again, an hour later he arrived and would you believe it, it was another ignition coil that had failed. There are 4 ignition coils apparently and each one of them went in turn. If I'd gone to the garage to have them replaced it wouldn't have been covered under the warranty.

Anyway, Herbie was forgiven and other than a few more minor niggles, there have been no other significant problems.

One tip to suggest, always make sure your new used car is covered by a dealer's warranty. They're generally very helpful; it's just the hassle factor.


You'd quite possibly be smothered in air-bags in a collision. The child locks on the rear doors are a really good safety feature. Also, there is a lock on the rear electric windows from a button on the front, which avoids fiddling in the back seats. You can also centrally lock all doors, including the boot, when inside the car for added safety. I've used this feature a number of times whilst driving alone.


Not too bad at the front, but I could imagine at the back, if you were quite tall, it may be on the compact side. The size of the boot is a real advantage though and being a hatchback, it's amazing what you can fit in. The rear seats fold right down too, ideal for carrying larger items.

The seats are quite comfortable for me, albeit I'm on the more petite side. The ride is relatively smooth and surprisingly quiet.


Just brilliant. Never pushed it to the absolute max, but it's an extremely capable car.

Customer Service

Very good. The warranty service is excellent and the staff are generally well trained and helpful.

Comes with a very good alarm. Never had any problems at all with security.


In my opinion, for the price bracket this car's in, I think it's a really great looking car. Put some skirts on it and a rear spoiler, it just looks like amazing!

Comes loaded with CD player, air conditioning, alarm, electric windows, cup holder and many more gizmos!
Fuel consumption

To be honest, I'd kind of suggest it was moderate. For the size car and engine, I would suggest it verges on the thirstier side, but still a very economical car.

Advantages of the Mk 4 VW Golf 1.6SE

1. Excellent gear box
2. Great road handling
3. Extremely refined interior
4. Attractive blue illuminated dashboard
5. Electric windows
6. Air conditioning is very effective in the summer
7. Economical
8. Good sized boot
9. Good dealer back-up

Disadvantages of the Mk 4 VW Golf 1.6SE

1. Electrics can be dodgy
2. Takes a while to de-steam in this weather
3. Minor niggles can try your patience at times
4. Replacement parts and dealer services can be pricey


As you can see, the advantages out-weigh the disadvantages, so definitely, for some reason am really happy with it.

Well, I hope the above review is of help.


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Comments about this review »

chappy81 13.12.2006 07:18

Nice personal touch on the review, well done!

smudgeybabes 10.12.2006 00:27

Very professional review, interesting too.

Dan_ep 19.10.2006 00:06

I'd love a herbie myself! Dan.

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Product Information »

Product details

Body Type Hatchback
Available Trims SE, S; SE
Range Volkswagen Golf
Range + Engine Type Golf IV 1.6
Manufacturer Volkswagen
Fuel Type Petrol

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Review Ratings »

This review of Volkswagen Golf IV 1.6 has been rated:

"exceptional" by (3%):

  1. taisu

"very helpful" by (98%):

  1. evilfran
  2. gizmogizmo
  3. jamiemazza

and 36 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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